Titoist, on 16 September 2012 - 00:00, said:
I find the overall quality of the Sonic superior to that of the Mazda 3 or even 2. Sonic has a more solid feel, while the Mazda 3 from my experience is very plastiky and creaks during a hot summer drive where the inside and outside temperature variation makes the plastic move. Didn't experience this with the Sonic. I test drove both on the same day in 35C weather.
Only creaking I've had on my Speed3 is the plastic on the vents. That being said, the interior of my 2011 Speed3 is complete different from the 2010 Mazda3 I had 2 years ago. The Speed3 has a lot of cloth on the side panels and a different material on the dash which feels like it would freely expand and contract with weather having software plastic. I considered the Mazda3 an economy car before the Mazda2 came out. The Mazda2 is an all around cheap car though. Makes it the perfect starter car for a high school/college age student. The Volt's MSRP is double that of the Mazda2 though so comparing them is hardly fair. Even the Mazda3 is 2/3 of the price. I'd compare the Mazda2 to Honda Fits, Ford Fiestas, NIssan Versa and maybe Kia Soul though that's be bit higher end in that class. Mazda3 would be compared to Honda Civics, Mitsubishi Eclipse, Ford Focus and VW Jetta. I would say the Volt falls into a new class of cars that is a high end economy car. It's not a cheap build quality at all but its still very small to save on gas. Most economy cars right now are low build quality in general (look at the Mazda2 and comparison cars) so I don't feel they fall in the same category. When looking at cars, to me anyway, it seems there are brackets for various socioeconomic classes. Lower class people look at new cars the $10,000 to $30,000 range. Middle class people would consider a $20,000 car and up to probably $50,000 for SUVs and nice trucks. Upper class goes from there.
Here are the side panels and a few interior shots of the Speed3. A lot of the cheaper plastic from the regular Mazda3 is replaced with cloth and leather. The red and black you see on the side panels is cloth. The seats are cloth in the center and leather on the outside which is important here because it gets to be 120 F(not sure what that is in C)during the summer and you can't sit on black leather that's been in direct sunlight at that temp without getting burned a bit.